It’s an exciting time to be a dietitian. Advances in digital communication provide novel opportunities to use our expertise in ways that didn’t exist when I first became an RD. At the same time, those advances make our active online presence a necessity. With so many uncredentialed nutrition experts bombarding consumers with confusing and often misleading information, we’re challenged with cutting through the noise and establishing our place online as the nutrition experts. Our digital presence must be professional and credible but also engaging for our audience. So where do we start? We start with a professional and effective website.
There are basic yet critical elements to a website. You have less than 10 seconds to capture the visitor’s attention. Here are the essentials to making sure you get noticed:
1. Good design: Think of a website as a virtual business card—it must be visually appealing to be noticed. At first glance, it should appear organized and have a clean design. Colors, fonts, logos, and messages that identify your brand and brand personality should be used consistently throughout your website’s pages. Keep in mind that the strongest brands are recognizable through powerful, consistent visuals.
Appealing design also takes into account how information is organized. A potential client should be able to locate things quickly, and the information should be presented in a way that ultimately drives them to a desired action (eg, signing up to receive e-mails from you, buying your product, scheduling an appointment).
2. Clear messaging: It should be obvious what you do, whom you serve, what you offer, and where to find you in as few words as possible. Well-written, concise messaging is critical.
3. Professional images: Nothing can ruin a website like poor photography. I recommend investing in a few branded shots to use throughout your media platforms. When using stock photography, make sure that the images are high quality and representative of your brand and content. Poorly chosen stock photography, regardless of image quality, can be as damaging as low-resolution photos. Think of imagery as a visual representation of your credibility; it must look professional.
4. SEO-friendly copy: Search engine optimization (SEO) is what ensures that people can find you on the internet. SEO is the process of helping search engines (such as Google) identify what your site is about and how it might be a good source for users. One way to practice SEO is to strategically define keywords or keyphrases that represent your business when creating your website. Content and images should align with those keywords and hashtags on the website. By targeting keywords, you improve your site’s chances of appearing as a top result in an internet search.
5. E-mail capture: E-mail marketing still reigns as customers’ most preferred communication tool. Your website should have a place to capture visitor’s e-mail addresses so you can develop your e-mail list. A robust e-mail list is a must for an effective digital strategy.
6. A call to action: This is what you want the website visitor to do. Common calls to action are “Contact Me,” “Sign Up,” Purchase Here,” etc. This is where you have the opportunity to make your visitor a customer.
7. Video: As attention spans get shorter, video becomes an even more prominent mode of communication. Video gets your message out quickly, imparts your personality, elicits engagement, and is easily shared. Consumers love it. Incorporating a video on your homepage is a great bang for your buck.
As we continue to navigate our profession in the digital world, it’s my hope that we RDs can set ourselves apart as the credible sources on nutrition. A website that accurately represents our expertise is a great place to start.
— Sarah Marjoram, MS, RDN, LD, is the owner of Nourish My Marketing, a digital marketing agency designed specifically for RDs. Her agency was born out of her experience as a nutrition entrepreneur and small business owner and the challenges that dietitians face. Through her agency, Sarah is on a mission to support her colleagues in establishing themselves as the nutrition experts in the digital space.